Why am I writing about Fibromyalgia, you ask? It is the latest on my list of chronic pain conditions that I have been diagnosed with. I am not alone in this. Many others who have already been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and/or ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis) have a probability (perhaps a good one) of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, assuming that they have not already been diagnosed. These conditions all go hand in hand. I am yet to do research on fibromyalgia as I have spent quite some time associating ALL my symptoms with RA.
My current research (yes, today, since today is the day I visited Dr. S.) has filled my brain with the following information that I am sharing with you today.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes muscle pain and fatigue. Persons will the condition generally have “tender points” on the body. Tender points are usually specific parts of the neck, shoulder, back, hips, arms and legs. These points hurt when pressure is put on them.
Other symptoms consist with fibromyalgia include:
• Trouble sleeping
• Morning stiffness
• Pain menstrual periods
• Tingling in the hands and feet
• Problems thinking and memory issues (often called “fibro fog”)
The causes of fibromyalgia are unknown. They maybe a number of factors involved and the condition has been linked to:
• Stressful and/or traumatic events, i.e. a car accident
• Repetitive injuries
• Certain diseases.
• It can also occur without a trigger.
Many scientists believe that human genetics may be linked to fibromyalgia. The belief is genes make people react to pain differently.
Scientists estimate that fibromyalgia affects 5 million Americans over the age of 18. Most sufferers are women. However, men and children can also have the disorder. Middle age is the most common time for diagnosis. Women who have a family member with the disorder have a higher chance of being diagnosed.
Additionally, persons with certain conditions are more likely to have fibromyalgia. As I mentioned earlier, these conditions include, but are not limited to, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and/or ankylosing spondylitis.
My research shows that fibromyalgia is difficult to treat. In 2007, the FDA approved Lyrica, as the first drug to treat the disease. In studies that were done in 2005, Lyrica was found to reduce pain, improve sleep and fatigue and even reduce pain and symptoms of similar conditions. In the past, doctors treated fibromyalgia with medications that are used for similar conditions.
Suggestions to feel better include (aboutarthritis.com):
• Taking medications as prescribed
• Getting enough sleep
• Eating well
• Making work changes, if necessary.
Current fibromyalgia research (this according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skins Diseases “NIAMS”) is currently conducting reaches to understand:
• Why people with fibromyalgia have increased sensitivity to pain
• The role of stress hormones in the body
• Medicines and behavioral treatments
• Whether there is a gene or genes that make a person more likely to have fibromyalgia.
For More Information on Fibromyalgia and Other Related Conditions:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
National Institutes of Health1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
Toll Free: 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267)
Today’s visit to the rheumatologist also included x-rays to hopefully rule out ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis). What’s next? Even though lupus has already been ruled out by my rheum, I have not yet ruled it out. I have already been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome but most of the information out there seems to lead to the conclusion that Sjogren’s syndrome and RA are related and that Sjogren’s syndrome is not in any way unusual for an RA patient. (Besides, if I clump the two diseases into one category, it makes me feel less sick to my stomach.) I am sure that there will be more conditions that I will be diagnosed with in the upcoming months and years but I have faith that my conditions can be properly managed. That is all that I can ask for. And even though a cure may not happen in my lifetime, I pray that there will be one soon so that my children and your children don’t have live with the chronic pain that many millions of Americas who suffer from these multitude of conditions do.